Produced in partnership with Explore Asheville.
What’s the best way to get to know a town? Find cool, interesting locals and ask them to show you around. Locals like Holden Curran and Bow Smith, co-founders of Rowan Coffee, one of Asheville’s coolest coffee shops. When they moved to Asheville in 2019 after graduating from college in Charleston, they already knew the city, having visited so often — to go camping, to see live music, to spend time with friends — that it already felt like a second home. Curran and Bow brought with them a love of the coffee industry and a desire to open a spot with progressive business practices and a contemporary approach to coffee and to the barista profession. By all accounts, they’re thriving — and are a vivid example of how and why Asheville is a welcoming home for clever creatives who want to make a fresh mark on the world. Here’s how they would spend their Best Day Ever in Asheville.
Asheville is a charming little city tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because it’s surrounded by many scenic hikes, waterfalls, and swimming holes, it’s just as easy to spend an entire day outside of the city as it is to spend it in town. Asheville defies some logic, as it is equally reminiscent of a large East Coast metropolitan city and a slow-paced, little mountain town. We believe this is largely due to the concentration of highly motivated, creative mix and the talented people who live here, despite the fairly small overall population. Unlike larger cities, which can so often be competitive, the community in Asheville are incredibly supportive of each other.
Our own origin story is a great example: We started Rowan Coffee as a mobile espresso cart in 2020, operating inside other businesses around town. We owe a lot of our success in the first year of operating our brick and mortar, which we opened in 2021, to those early days on the carts, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without other small business owners being willing to share their spaces with us. It just so happens that a lot of those same businesses are among our favorite places in and around Asheville, a big part of what we’d consider any perfect day in our book.
Kick off the morning with an espresso at Pollen, one of our favorite cafes in town. They operate as a flower bar as well, with arrangements made to order. Their space is bright and sunny — and who doesn’t like starting off the morning surrounded by flowers?
Grab breakfast at Sawhorse. This classy little diner with French Canadian and Northeastern roots is a bit of a hidden gem off the beaten path, and well worth the visit.
Keep strolling down the greenway and grab lunch at Baby Bull for one of the best burgers in Asheville. Baby Bull originated from the wildly successful “Burger Mondays” at its more upscale sister restaurant, Bull and Beggar, and we’re all about it.
Early Afternoon Downtown
Head downtown to Reunion Vintage, one of our favorite vintage clothing shops (and where we did our very first Rowan pop up). They occupy an upstairs studio space and have a highly curated selection of clothing. You’ll pretty much catch us wearing something we bought from them daily.
Head around the corner and up the hill to our cafe! Grab an espresso or one of our rotating seasonal drinks.
Head over one block to East Fork, a local pottery company with a huge following for all the right reasons. Not only do they make beautiful wares, but they are a business focused heavily on sustainability, transparency, and taking care of their 80+ employees.
Stop by Ware, a little retail shop focused on reusable and sustainably sourced home goods. Everything in their shop is the perfect example of the intersection of functionality and beauty.
Mid Afternoon in West Asheville
Head over to West Asheville to Palm and Pine, our favorite little plant shop run by two of the most fun people in town. Make sure to give DD, the shop dog, some love before you leave!
Go by Harvest Records and peruse the shop. They have the best selection, the coolest staff, and are a major staple of Asheville’s excellent music scene.
Time to head outside the city, but first .. we need some more coffee. Go by Farewell in South Slope for a late coffee on their patio, then hop in the car and go!
Make your way out to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a scenic drive and stop at an overlook and watch the sun start to set. Alternatively, if you want to do a quick hike, head up to Black Mountain and walk the trail up Lookout Mountain. Either way, you’re gonna have seriously beautiful views!
Head back over to West Asheville for wine and small plates at Leo’s House of Thirst. It’s quaint but elegant, and it’s just as nice to hang out inside as it is to sit outside by one of their fire pits.
Have dinner at The Admiral, a classy New American restaurant with an impressive rotating seasonal menu.
After dinner, grab drinks at The Golden Pineapple. With a highly creative drink menu and a talented and fun staff mix, it’s our favorite bar in town. If you still have room after dinner, they also have an incredible food menu that carries its own weight, making it one of our favorite restaurants as well.
End the night at Crow & Quill, a downtown speakeasy style bar with a cozy, Victorian interior. You can sometimes catch live swing music or a burlesque show, but no matter what’s going on, it’ll be a fun time!
Stay hungry: See more reasons why Asheville is for foodies.